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A Stylistic Survey and Performance Guide of Three Popular Rags and Three Rags, Composed after 2008 by William Bolcom

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This research paper will examine William Bolcom’s compositional style and performance challenges related to Three Popular Rags (1967-1968), Knockout: A Rag (2008), Estela: Rag Latino (2010), and Contentment - A

This research paper will examine William Bolcom’s compositional style and performance challenges related to Three Popular Rags (1967-1968), Knockout: A Rag (2008), Estela: Rag Latino (2010), and Contentment - A Rag (2015). The aim is to reveal some of his contributions to the revival and expansion of ragtime. The paper includes a brief background on William Bolcom and a history of ragtime music. Differences between the compositional styles of Scott Joplin and Bolcom are discussed through descriptive analysis, focusing on musical forms, rhythms, harmonies, and textures. The performance suggestions include elements of dynamics, articulation, extended piano techniques, and pedal use. The author hopes that this stylistic analysis and performance guide will further interest in Bolcom’s piano ragtime music.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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William Bolcom's 3 ghost rags: an orchestration for chamber ensemble with commentary on the history and propagation of ragtime

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The purpose of this project is twofold: to contribute to the literature of chamber ensembles comprising mixed wind, string, and percussion instruments by producing arrangements of three piano rags by

The purpose of this project is twofold: to contribute to the literature of chamber ensembles comprising mixed wind, string, and percussion instruments by producing arrangements of three piano rags by William Bolcom; and to highlight Bolcom's pivotal role in the ragtime revival of the 1960's and 1970's. Through his influence as a scholar, composer, and performer, Bolcom (b. 1938), one of the most prominent American composers of his generation, helped garner respect for ragtime as art music and as one of America's great popular music genres. Bolcom's 3 Ghost Rags were written in the tradition of classic piano rags, but with a compositional sensibility that is influenced by the fifty years that separate them from the close of the original ragtime era. The basis for the present orchestrations of 3 Ghost Rags is the collection of instrumental arrangements of piano rags published by Stark Publishing Co., entitled Standard High-Class Rags. More familiarly known as the "Red Back Book," this publication was representative of the exchange of repertoire between piano and ensembles and served as a repertory for the various ragtime revivals that occurred later in the twentieth century. In creating these orchestrations of Bolcom's piano rags, the author strove to provide another medium in which Bolcom's music could be performed, while orchestrating the music for an historically appropriate ensemble.

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Date Created
  • 2013